Match in brief
Antoine Griezmann’s eighth-minute strike set France on course for a UEFA Nations League brace against Croatia. The Barcelona player jumped over a clearance to send his left-footed effort high into the net, after a good job from Ferland Mendy on the right. Kylian Mbappé nearly doubled the visitors’ lead in the 15th minute, but shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
Croatia gained confidence and at the half hour Mario Pašalić forced a save from Hugo Lloris at close range. The hosts’ perseverance was finally rewarded halfway through the second period when Nikola Vlašić returned home after Josip Brekalo’s assist.
France came to life 15 minutes from time and substitute Paul Pogba forced a save from Dominik Livaković. Just under three minutes later, Pogba started the swing that led to the winner, spraying a precise pass to the left for Lucas Digne. The Everton defender was able to launch a first crossing on the path of Kylian Mbappé, who swept the house.
Lloris was vigilant to turn down Mateo Kovačić and Andrej Kramarić in the dying minutes to make sure France took maximum points.
Elvir Islamović, journalist Croatia
Although Croatia managed to level things off in the second half and they looked inspiring after the restart, the visitors again showed their class. Zlatko Dalić knows what his team need to improve on but also had some bright spots from the game, among them the performances of Brekalo and Vlašić.
David Crossan, journalist France
Deschamps will be delighted with the victory, if not with the way France were dominated for most of the second half. Les Bleus scored two excellent goals and played very well for the first 25 minutes, with Griezmann rediscovering his goal threat. Mbappé was far from at his best, missing a great chance in the first half, but still ended up scoring the winner. The match turned out to be inconclusive in determining whether the diamond midfielder is best suited for world champions.
Didier Deschamps, France coach: “We knew we were going to be in a real battle. We started very well and it’s a shame we didn’t score two goals because Kylian had a great chance. We did what we had to do in the second half. ”
Antoine Griezmann, striker from France: “It was a difficult game and not very pleasant to play. We fought and the most important thing is to win. We were all involved defensively and we took our chances.
Josip Brekalo, Croatia forward: “After a not so good start, we played really well, especially in the second half. We had our chances and it could have been a different result in the end. I think we deserved more; we could even have won. “
• Griezmann’s eighth-minute winner was the fastest competitive goal of his career in France.
• Croatia are now winless in eight games with Les Bleus, losing six.
• Croatia lost a competitive home game for the first time in 20 outings.
Croatia: Livaković; Uremovic, Lovren, Vida, Barisic; Badelj (Kovacic 46), Modric; Pasalic (Brekalo 46), Vlasic (Kramaric 80), Perisic (Bradaric 78), Petkovic (Budimir 61)
France: Lloris; Mendy, Varane, Lenglet, Digne (Hernández 83); Tolisso (Camavinga 63), Nzonzi, Rabiot (Pogba 74); Griezmann (Giroud 83); Mbappé, Martial (Coman 63)
Sweden host Croatia on Saturday 14 November while Portugal are at home against France.